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Bubu - Anabelas CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.25 | 569 ratings

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5 stars (9/10)

"Anabelas" is a fantastic one-shot album from Argentinian band Bubu. It will definitely appeal to fans of the approach of Van Der Graaf Generator and particularly early King Crimson, with aggressive heavy saxophone, eclectic use of other instruments such as flute and violin, and songs that move brilliantly between serene melodies and mad chaos, all put together in an a way that somehow works. But there is so much more to it than that, and the sound achieved here is way more than can be expressed by simply listing influences.

One of the biggest contributing factors to the diverse and original sound is probably the size of the lineup. There are at least 8 members, including 3 different Eduardos. That must have got confusing for them! The fact that Bubu also have Daniel Andreoli listed for 'composition and arrangement' gives you a clue as the musical calibre of this record. We have violin, flute, and saxophone, in addition to the standard rock instruments, and all are a treat. Any instrument here is capable of taking an effective lead, or working across another. Everything has it's place, whether it be centre stage, an accompanying back seat, or simply working as part of the unified full-band rush in other parts.

The songs are all long (one song on the first side, and the second side is split into two, similar to the structure of "Close To The Edge"), and there is a lot packed into each of these tracks. Sometimes the parts transition sharply, to stark effect, and sometimes they build skilfully and flow naturally. The epic "El Cortejo De Un Día Amarillio" is a great example of both. It is a song that emerges gradually and then takes you on a real music journey. The variety of instruments is pulled off so well, giving a really full on sound, and a lot of sonic depth. The instruments trade short virtuoso parts without ever getting out of hand. The saxophone is particularly driving, the bass and drums are always catchy and involved, all the lead instruments make significant contributions, there are wordless freaky ethereal female backing vocals as the sound builds (tinges of zehul here), and even a few short blasts of a whistle in there (about 13 minutes in). What a song! The whole piece is tied together with a lot of thought. For me this song represents a wonderful synthesis of an eclectic musical language, combined with grand symphonic ambitions.

There is often a lot going on at any one moment, and so the music requires a few listens to fully appreciate. Despite living within the same sort of sound, both "El Viaje De Anabelas" and "Sueños De Maniquí" manage to offer us further distinctive delights in this manner. The former especially showcases Bubu's ability to move from beautiful symphonic parts, to violent and pretty heavy parts naturally and effortlessly, and gives us more of the intense female vocals. We also get a good amount of singing, in Spanish. When I was reviewing the Finnish band Haikara, I noted that a band singing in it's native language is often a great way to give said band it's own identity, and it bears repeating here. I think this principle is probably especially true in the eclectic prog sub-genre. Here the occasional vocals are a fun addition, and definitely do add to the overall sound.

My Spanish is far too rusty to translate most of what is being sung, but I do know enough to know that "Sueños De Maniquí" means "Dreams of Mannequin", so I'd be willing to bet that the lyrics are a match for the music in terms of weirdness. The song itself is a great piece. A pleasant start with melodic Spanish vocals turns menacing as guitar and bass roll in, followed by flute and saxophone and we are off into a mad charge. It is full band chaos, the same way "21st Century Schizoid Man" did it, but with so many more changes to style and mood. Vocals come in for the second half, and as I mentioned above, are very accomplished. The singer has impressive range and power. In fact, my one criticism of this album is that they probably could have used the singer slightly more. I think I read somewhere that he used to ride a bicycle up to the front of the stage and then start singing, which is pretty bizarre behaviour. It wouldn't surprise me if this was true.

It's a real shame this is Bubu's only offering to the world, because this was a very exciting album, full of ideas, and it seems like this band had so much promise. Perhaps it was the trouble with censorship that the band faced in their homeland of Argentina (and saw the album released many years after recording), or perhaps it was something else entirely. Whatever it was, we missed out, because this album is stunning.

ScorchedFirth | 5/5 |


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